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Kaliningrad

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on co-operation between Kaliningrad and the European Union. [59368]

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Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Government recognise that Kaliningrad is a significant issue in the EU-Russia relationship.

The EU recognises also the impact that enlargement will have on Kaliningrad. Due to concerns over illegal migration, the EU has made clear that visa-free transit will no longer be possible between Kaliningrad and the rest of Russia after Poland and Lithuania have joined the European Union.

The Union has therefore developed a package of assistance: to facilitate the issuing of visas; to promote workable border arrangements; and to support Kaliningrad's economic development. This assistance is intended to help Kaliningrad benefit from the opportunities offered by EU enlargement. Implementation of this package will depend on overall agreement between the EU and Russia. The issue was discussed at the EU-Russia summit on 29 May. Expert level contacts between the two sides will continue.

Angola

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department has taken since 5 April to help the implementation of the ceasefire agreement between the Government of Angola and the UNITA rebels; what reports he has received from his staff in the area about possible problems; what representations he has made to the Government of Angola with respect to creating a lasting peace; and if he will make a statement. [58908]

Mr. MacShane: We are in close contact with the Angolan Government, from President dos Santos down. We discussed the latest developments with Foreign Minister Miranda in London in March. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development held follow-up discussions in Luanda in April. We are also in touch with Ibrahim Gambari, the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Africa (including talks on 6 June), and with our EU colleagues, with the aim of encouraging transparent dialogue between all parties.

There have been reports that quartering areas are over-stretched and unable to meet the basic welfare needs of former UNITA troops and their families. We have played a leading role with other donors to encourage the UN and Government of Angola to overcome earlier co-ordination problems and to agree roles and responsibilities in the quartering areas. The UN has now begun work on implementing relief activity, within guidelines agreed with the Angolan government. Her Majesty's Government are contributing $1 million to the UN's office for the co-ordination of humanitarian affairs (OCHA) in Angola. It is important that the Angolan Government fulfils its own stated obligations and that it continues to co-operate fully with the international community, particularly on the humanitarian relief agenda.

European Council (Seville)

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government's

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priorities are for the European Council's meeting at Seville; by what standards he will judge the success of the meeting; and if he will make a statement. [59101]

Peter Hain: We want Seville to give fresh impetus to the EU's work to combat illegal immigration, by strengthening the EU's borders, enhancing our work with source countries in tackling the causes and consequences of illegal migration, and focusing the EU's policies and resources more sharply. We also want Seville to agree a package of reforms to the workings of the Council, to improve its efficiency and make it more transparent to the citizen. In addition, Heads of State and Government will discuss enlargement, in particular how to communicate its benefits more effectively to public opinion; other aspects of the future of Europe debate; sustainable development; a range of economic and social topics to continue to deliver the Lisbon agenda; and a number of CFSP issues.

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals the Government will be putting forward on the reform of the European Union's rotating presidency to the European Council's meeting at Seville; and if he will make a statement. [59099]

Peter Hain: The Government would like agreement at the Seville European Council on practical steps to improve the way the Council works. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister set out some concrete ideas in his joint letter to Prime Minster Aznar with Chancellor Schroder in February. Seville, however, cannot agree changes to the rotating presidency system: such changes would require amendments to the Union's treaties; these can only be agreed at an Intergovernmental Conference (expected to take place in 2004).

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government's aims are for the promotion of environmental strategies in the European Union's external responsibilities at the European Council's meeting at Seville; and if he will make a statement. [59100]

Peter Hain: The Government want the European Council in Seville to elaborate the external dimension of the EU's sustainable development strategy. This strategy aims to strike a balance between the environmental, economic and social objectives of society, in order to maximise well-being in the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. We want the EU to agree a set of priority objectives, with related targets and actions. These should include improving coherence between its internal and external policies and addressing developing country concerns such as market access. A commitment at Seville will demonstrate the EU's engagement with the global agenda for sustainable development, poverty eradication and achieving the UN's Millennium Development Goals.

The European Council is also the opportunity for the EU to make a clear statement on sustainable development and to prepare for the forthcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg later this year. We favour decisions by the Council on the EU's top priorities for political agreement at Johannesburg, such as initiatives on freshwater and sanitation, and sustainable energy.

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Press and Public Relations

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much expenditure his Department has incurred in 1997–98 on employing external consultants to deal with the press or public relations of his Department. [59497]

Mr. MacShane: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) on 24 January 2002, Official Report, column 999W.

That answer covered the period 1998–2002. In 1997–98, the British Council paid £23,500 to a consultancy which looked at the British Council brand development and identity.

Tibet

Mr. MacDougall: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many times in the last three years he has met his Chinese counterpart to discuss Tibet. [59597]

Mr. MacShane: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has met his Chinese counterpart, Tang Jiaxuan, several times in the last three years to discuss issues of international and bilateral concern. He has raised our concerns over Tibet twice, most recently in January this year.

Uzbekistan

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many UK observers were (a) sent by his Department and (b) part of international missions to Uzbekistan on 5 December 1999; and if he will make a statement. [59686]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Neither the Foreign and Commonwealth Office nor the OSCE sent observers to Uzbekistan for the parliamentary elections on 5 December 1999. No other international missions were deployed.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many UK observers were present in Uzbekistan on 27 January; and if he will make a statement. [59683]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The UK did not send official observers to the national referendum, which took place in Uzbekistan on 27 January 2002. However, the Government of Uzbekistan invited two UK nationals in a private capacity.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports have been received by his Department on human rights in Uzbekistan since April 1997; and if he will make a statement. [59688]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) receives regular reporting on human rights in Uzbekistan from our embassy in Tashkent. The embassy closely monitors the human rights situation in the country and is in regular contact with the leaders of independent human rights organisations and international NGOs based there. The FCO also receives information direct from human rights organisations. For example, in January, Human Rights Watch wrote to the Department outlining concerns about human rights in Uzbekistan. In

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the same month, the UK ensured that issues highlighted by Human Rights Watch were raised at the EU- Uzbekistan Cooperation Council.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when representations have been made by (a) his Department and (b) UK diplomatic staff in Tashkent to the Government of Uzbekistan concerning human rights since April 1997; and if he will make a statement. [59687]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) frequently raises human rights concerns with the Ambassador of Uzbekistan in London. It also contributes to EU statements and raises human rights issues and individual cases together with EU partners at the OSCE.

In Tashkent, the embassy monitors the human rights situation and maintains a close dialogue with human rights groups. General human rights concerns and individual cases are raised by senior FCO officials visiting Uzbekistan and by the British Ambassador. The embassy also makes representations with EU colleagues.

UK diplomatic staff regularly remind Uzbekistan of its international obligations under the OSCE charter and the EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, as well as under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Uzbekistan signed in 1995.

The UK has carried out, with the cooperation of the Uzbekistan authorities, a number of projects to improve human rights, including most recently a project to install electronic recording equipment in courtrooms.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many UK observers were present at the presidential elections in Uzbekistan on 9 January 2000; and if he will make a statement. [59684]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The UK did not send official observers to the presidential elections which took place in Uzbekistan on 9 January 2000.


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